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FODMAP diet: The right diet for irritable bowel syndrome

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 183 views

No bread, no fructose, no milk: the so-called FODMAP diet is intended to alleviate irritable bowel problems. Those affected avoid certain foods with short-chain carbohydrates. Read here how the diet works, which foods are allowed and what you need to watch out for.

What is the FODMAP Diet?

The FODMAP diet, also known as a low-FODMAP diet or low-FODMAP diet, is based on the principle that people with digestive problems avoid certain foods.

The focus is on the so-called FODMAP foods. The acronym FODMAP comes from English and is an abbreviation for “fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols”. Behind this are sugar and alcohol compounds contained in food:

  • fermentable oligosaccharides : fructans and galactans (e.g. in wheat, onions, garlic and legumes)
  • Disaccharides : lactose (dairy products)
  • Monosaccharides : fructose (fruit, honey)
  • Polyols : sorbitol , maltitol, xylitol (in avocados, apricots, cherries, among others)

FODMAP foods cause digestive problems

The assumption: FODMAP-containing foods are hardly or not at all digested in the small intestine. They also put a strain on digestion, as they produce more gases during this time. They also bind water on the way to the intestines and thus have a laxative effect. The consequences: diarrhoea, flatulence or constipation occur.

In a FODMAP diet, foods are therefore primarily eaten that contain few of the short-chain carbohydrates – such as lettuce, tomatoes or quinoa. FODMAP-containing foods, on the other hand, are avoided. These include fruits with fructose such as apples and pears or processed meats.

This diet was developed by Australian physicians to treat chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as irritable bowel syndrome.

No long-term studies available

For the effectiveness of a FODMAP diet in irritable bowel syndrome, there is still no clear evidence from long-term studies. However, doctors often recommend trying a diet, as those affected reported that their symptoms improved as a result. But never go on the diet without consulting a doctor.

This is how the low-FODMAP diet works for irritable bowel syndrome

Many patients with irritable bowel syndrome complain of discomfort after eating FODMAP-containing foods. A waiver of it may therefore make sense and alleviate the suffering.

However, it is important to clarify beforehand whether you may have celiac disease (gluten intolerance). If so, a FODMAP diet is not the right form of therapy, but a gluten-free diet.

The FODMAP diet is divided into three phases:

Eliminationsphase

The elimination phase lasts up to eight weeks. During this time, FODMAP-containing foods are completely banned from the menu. The menu mainly includes gluten-free cereals, selected fruits and vegetables and unprocessed meat.

Since the choice of food is very limited in this phase, experts recommend testing beforehand whether there is a lactose and/or fructose intolerance. If not, the diet may not need to be as restrictive.

If there is no improvement in this first phase as a result of abstinence, it is not necessary to continue with the diet.

Reexpositionsphase

If there are positive effects in the first phase, the FODMAP-containing foods are reintroduced individually into the menu. As a result, those affected can feel which foods trigger their symptoms and how they should ideally put together their diet.

It is advised to retry only a small amount of a particular food and then gradually increase the portion.

maintenance phase

If the symptoms have improved as a result of the changed diet, the third phase has been reached: the maintenance phase. Those affected now know which foods they tolerate well and which not. In order to be supplied with all the important nutrients, it is important that the restrictions only apply to the foods that actually cause symptoms.

FODMAP: Which foods are suitable for irritable bowel syndrome?

We have a selection for you of which foods are low-FODMAP and high-FODMAP:

Low FOD foods

These foods are allowed on a FODMAP diet:

vegetables

  • lettuce
  • Spinach
  • carrots
  • chives
  • cucumber
  • Aubergine
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • Chestnuts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • fennel
  • Ginger
  • Olive
  • Pastinake

fruit

  • lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Tangerines
  • Kiwi
  • Honeydew melons
  • blueberry
  • strawberry
  • blueberry
  • Rhabarber

Cereals and pseudocereals

  • Reis
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • gluten free products

Nuts (maximum 10-15 pieces or 1-2 teaspoons):

  • almonds
  • Pecan nuts
  • walnuts
  • sunflower and pumpkin seeds

sweeteners

Milch

  • plant milk (except soy milk)
  • lactose-free milk

Cheese

  • Hard cheeses (parmesan and cheddar cheese, for example)
  • blue cheese
  • Brie
  • Mozzarella
  • Feta
  • lactose-free cheese

fish, meat and eggs

  • lean, unprocessed meat
  • seafood
  • all unprocessed fish species

Foods containing FODMAP

During the first phase of the diet, these foods must not be on the menu:

Vegetables / Legumes

  • asparagus
  • artichokes
  • snow peas
  • Onion
  • garlic
  • Leek
  • cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • green pepper
  • legumes

fruit

  • Apple
  • pear
  • raspberry
  • blackberry
  • watermelon
  • Nectarines
  • peach
  • apricot
  • plum
  • plum
  • Mango
  • Papaya

nuts

  • Pistachios

sweeteners

  • Honig
  • Agave
  • Sorbitol
  • Mannitol
  • Xylitol
  • Corn syrup

Grain

  • Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, spelt
  • Couscous

milk and milkproducts

  • cow milk
  • sheep and goat milk
  • soy milk
  • canned milk
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • sour cream
  • whipped cream

Cheese

fish and meat

  • processed, fried or breaded meat
  • fatty meat
  • processed, fried or breaded fish
  • Wurst

Effects of FODMAP Diet on the Body

The positive effects of the FODMAP diet have not yet been definitively proven. However, some studies and reports from those affected show that the following symptoms can be alleviated by not eating FODMAP-containing foods:

  • gas
  • stomach pain
  • soft stool
  • frequent urge to defecate
  • Diarrhea
  • constipation

However, since the first phase of the diet in particular involves great food restriction and the risk of nutrient deficiencies, do not go on the diet without discussing it with a doctor. Don’t prolong the first phase any longer either.

In addition, it has not yet been finally clarified how the FODMAP diet affects the intestinal flora. Since fructose is completely dispensed with in the first phase, the transport enzyme GLUT-5 is also formed less. This may make the symptoms worse when you start eating fructose again.

It is also important not to try several irritable bowel diets at the same time – otherwise changes cannot be attributed to a specific diet or individual foods.

Who is the FODMAP diet suitable for?

The FODMAP diet was developed to treat symptoms of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as irritable bowel syndrome.

But never do this diet on suspicion. Always talk to a doctor first if you have problems with digestion and clarify possible serious illnesses.

Diet tips for irritable bowel syndrome

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, the following tips will help in everyday life:

  • Keep a food diary to track what you ate if you have any symptoms.
  • Eat as fresh and natural as possible. Avoid finished products with many additives.
  • Take your time eating and chew thoroughly.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
  • Stop eating when you feel full.
  • Spicy and greasy foods are not suitable.
  • Avoid stress . It is helpful to incorporate relaxation methods such as autogenic training or yoga into everyday life.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your digestion working. At least 1.5 liters a day are recommended – preferably water, unsweetened teas or a thin mixture of fruit spritzers.

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